Talking Data


Within an education setting natural language generation (NLG) is a service that takes data and information and passes it across to the student, teacher or to a member of the support team in a natural conversational manner. NLG services can present insights to the recipient through a number of distribution channels such as app or SMS notifications, dashboards, reports that are displayed on the student home page or through a virtual digital assistant. When NLG is put to use it can present daily report cards to thousands of students on the campus, it can deliver daily insights on student progress to all their teachers; and do so in a matter of milliseconds and much more besides.

We have also reached a point were cognitive assistants can communicate with students and teachers in a manner that is indistinguishable from other forms of communication. When conversational and NLG services are combined they are able to distribute information and insights in a manner that finally makes data accessible to everyone on the campus.


The education sector is beginning to leverage the capabilities of digital services for processing very large volumes of data with rapidity, accuracy and reliability. Wide spread adoption of NLG services within the sector is likely to be based on improved operational efficiency for everyone on the campus; improved insight for students, teachers and support teams; its ability to deliver added value and improved student engagement. And as schools, colleges and universities start to use thinking machines to automate routine tasks around data and the distribution of information or insight they will enable teachers and support teams to focus more readily on the needs of their students.

NLG is also a natural compliment to affective computing and behavioural education because it enables individuals to make informed decisions. For example; it may encourage more students to apply for an undergraduate course. It could be used to encourage students to have a greater participatory role in their studies and life around the campus. It could encourage students to have more autonomy with their studies or it could be used to enable more timely and informed interventions to support students throughout the student life cycle.

When NLG and other services such as advanced analytics, robotic process automation and cognitive assistants are combined they have the potential to disrupt legacy work-flows and processes that are found in a typical school, college or university. They also promise radical improvements in all aspects of the student life cycle by simplifying day-to-day interactions, tasks and processes that serve the needs and demands of the student. Once again, the drivers for intelligent process automation are improved operational efficiency and productivity, a reduction in operating costs, and improved response times and experiences for everyone who is served by the institution.

The advent of adaptive learning environments, conversational services, cognitive assistants, natural language generation and other services within the education sector are warmly welcomed. The introduction of these services has also brought the norms, practices and technologies of the legacy internet era into sharp relief and exposed how inadequate they sometimes are in shaping educational services on today's campuses. The level of innovation that is needed will require educational establishments to question their commonly held assumptions of how technology can be used to enhance the customer journey; especially in this age of the thinking machine.